Blogger Matt Stoller asserted a “rootsgap” in his farewell post at OpenLeft last week. He co-founded the site last year (he is off to work on the Hill). “A rootsgap occurs when a leadership is dramatically out of step with its base or the public at large,” he wrote. He added:
While there are great people around our leaders, what is striking is how politicians are considered to be ‘over there’ making decisions, and activist movement people are considered to be outsiders and reactive to these decisions. This doesn’t make sense; cooperation can benefit everyone involved.
I thought immediately of the line Valerie Jarrett drew in her email yesterday about the Citizen’s Briefing Book between the “experts and advisors” who talk to the President-elect and the ‘roots. And I suspect the Obama administration is not even who Stoller has in mind.
Are our leaders out of touch with the ‘roots? And if they are, is that just wise politics — maybe we are not as powerful as we think! heaven forbid! — or is it a serious mistake by leaders unwilling, or unable, to recognize a fundamental shift in U.S. politics wrought by a new communications medium at least as powerful as radio and television.
Personally, I think Obama would not be President-elect right now without the Internet. He never could have raised enough money from small donors using direct mail, among other things. And I suggest one reason the Republican position has weakened in the past decade (MoveOn was started in 1998 and DailyKos in 2002, just as a reminder) is because they have used the Internet less effectively — rootsgap, such as it may be, notwithstanding — than Democrats. Your thoughts on all of this?